Dodge Dart and Fiat Viaggio. A flop?

Dodge Dart Fiat ViaggioIt all began with big expectations. The Dodge Dart was the first all-new product developed under Fiat era. It was one of the points of the agreement between Fiat and American government, in which the Italians committed to transfer their fuel efficiency knowhow to Chrysler and saved it. Based on the platform of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and powered by efficient engines, Dodge launched the Dart after years of no-presence in lower segments. The pass away of the popular Chrysler/Dodge Neon, back in 2006, left the company without an offer in C-Segment. Chrysler pointed at the big SUV, MPV and Pickups, while its sedan range wasn’t particularly boosted by its marketing department. This is, in my opinion, one of the reasons of the current results of the Dodge Dart. The truth is that this interesting sedan, which received very good comments from specialized press, doesn’t work as Chrysler wants, and its sales registrations are far away from initial forecasts. In mid 2012, when the car was launched, the company said that its plant in Belvedere had a monthly capacity of 12.000 units per month*, so sales target would be around 120.000 – 130.000 units during its first full year in the market. My own forecast, published in february 2013, was based on these estimates and the fact that the car has everything to be a top seller. YTD results indicate that the Dart will barely surpass the 80.000 units sold barrier this year.

Even if the Dart is the model with the highest growth (which is quite normal coming from an all-new model), it is still very far from its competitors, and even the VW Jetta, which is feeling the arrival of the Dart, sells twice. Source: Good Car Bad Car

Even if the Dart is the model with the highest growth (which is quite normal coming from an all-new model), it is still very far from its competitors, and even the VW Jetta, which is feeling the arrival of the Dart, sells twice. Source: Good Car Bad Car

That number is not bad for a car that just landed. But Chrysler’s expectations and the car itself deserve much more. If monthly records don’t change in the coming months, the Dodge Dart will become a flop in the marriage Fiat-Chrysler. And this would be the result of a lack of interest of the group in sedan segments and the lack of consistency with its nameplates. Honda made of the Civic an institutions for decades. The same case with the Toyota Corolla, and lately Chevrolet with the Cruze, and Ford with the Focus. Hyundai has made the same with the Elantra. These brands have given the right importance to their compact sedans, despite the fact the market clearly prefers larger cars. It is not the case of Chrysler. Yes, they invested a lot in this new car, and certainly, based on its features and characteristics, the Dart is an excellent car with a very interesting engine offer. But it has had to deal with competitors in its own house, as Dodge keeps promoting the Avenger with attractive prices, making use of its old age to make big rebates that sometimes affect the new Dart.

The Viaggio had a good start (which exceed analysts' forecast). Nevertheless its sales dropped in February (partly affected by the new year celebrations), to stabilize one month later around 3.000 units/month. It is very far from initial target. Source: Carsitaly.net

The Viaggio had a good start (which exceed analysts’ forecast). Nevertheless its sales dropped in February (partly affected by the new year celebrations), to stabilize one month later around 3.000 units/month. It is very far from initial target. Source: Carsitaly.net

In the other side of the Pacific ocean, the Fiat Viaggio, the Chinese version of the Dart, struggles to have a position in the sales ranking and give some visibility to Fiat brand. After years of fails with its Chinese partners, Fiat’s image and awareness are quite bad in the world’s largest car market. They finally agreed with Guangzhou to start the production of a world-class sedan to compete in China’s largest segment by sales volume. The Viaggio was presented in April 2012 and introduced 5 months later. Initial sales indicated that it was a complete success. Analysts and specialized press was shocked with its registrations during its 3 first months. But things changed from February 2013, when sales dropped from 4.000 units/month to 3.000. Fiat will sell around 40.000 units of the Viaggio in a segment in which almost 6 million units were sold in 2012. However I wouldn’t declare the Viaggio’s numbers as a flop. Most of the Chinese buyers don’t even know about Fiat. Despite the brand’s efforts to increase its awareness levels by opening more dealerships, and new fidelity campaigns, Fiat’s offer is very limited with only one product produced locally. The plant they have with Guangzhou can build 140.000 units/year, but the Viaggio’s results forced them to consider the coming production of Jeep models to use the plenty of the capacity. Actually the Jeep Compass, imported from USA (it pays a lot of taxes and is priced at 27.000 euros for the basic version), outsells the local Viaggio, and is the best-selling product of the group in APAC region.

In the case of the Dart I would consider it a flop, considering the position of Dogde brand playing as a local, and the features of the car. I don’t think it is the same case of the Viaggio in China, as I think it is quite normal to have those numbers when no one knows about Fiat, and the offer is quite limited. From both cases, Fiat-Chrysler should pay attention and learn from the mistakes in order to avoid them in future launches.

* Source: www.carsitaly.net

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20 responses to “Dodge Dart and Fiat Viaggio. A flop?

  1. Hello friends. Is there a set date for the end of production of the Fiat Bravo in europe? It is possible that there is a restyling of Bravo instead of launching a hatchback version of the Viaggio? Here in Brazil, the Viaggio is contemplated as a substitute for Fiat Linea, however, Fiat has just launched the Linea 2014 without the aesthetic modifications present in the Turkish version.
    http://www.noticiasautomotivas.com.br/fiat-anuncia-chegada-linha-2014-linea/
    Does Fiat Viaggio comes to Brazil before 2015?

    • Jefferson, in Europe they don’t have a new Bravo. The probally next Bravo will be a HATCH of the Viaggio, which is not confirmed for Europe or Latin America.

      In Brazil, Fiat will make a face-lift on Bravo until 2015, when the new factory will be producing.

      IN my opinion, Fiat will release a new car, probally Viaggio Hatch, and Viaggio Sedan. While Linea will be a car between Grand Siena and Viaggio, starting at R$45.000 until R$ 52.000, to steal cars from HB20S and others basics Sedans.

      * Sorry for speaking Portuguese Juan*

      Jefferson, a Fiat no Brasil não tem em NADA em comum com a Fiat Europeia. No Brasil a Fiat é auto-suficiente, ou seja, os projetos lançados aqui, não possuem a participação da Fiat Europeia, portanto, os europeus sabem menos do que nós sobre a Fiat brasileira e seus futuros produtos.

      • Hey Juan.

        Uno and Panda are similar just in the design, because the rest (interior, and quality) is very different.

        Ciao amico!

  2. Juan I’m afraid I cannot agree with you on this one. For me the Dart is a success and the Viaggio is the flop. You must consider that the Dart was originally launched with only two engine options, the 1.4Turbo and the 2.0. Only now has the 2.4 been launched. Besides that they launched the car in manual and DDCT boxes when the US’s appetite is clearly automatics. There is a school of thought that they were forced to rush the Dart to the market because there was a deadline to be met for Fiat to earn another small % of shares of Chrysler. Also the Dart being a new offering in the C-segment where Chrysler have been traditionally weak or absent means that buyers will take time to accept it. I think considering all these factors it is off to a good start without any rebates or special offers. Remember how the Fiat 500 started in the US. It was slow and frustrating…..and then it suddenly took off with the launch of the Abarth. The model mix should be right for the volumes to be generated. The 9-speed auto is still not available. This will improve the fuel consumption figures when it replaces the anciant 6-speed unit. Dodge can also offer a FPT JTDm engine just like the SUVs and trucks got the VM diesel. Let’s not forget that this is its first year and 100,000 units a year would be an additional 100k that Chrysler never had.

    On the other hand the Viaggio is a big disappointment. 40,000 units in a segment of 6 million is negligible. I am not sure that the Viaggio was the right car for the group to enter China with. It should have been Jeep or even the Chrysler 300C which I would say is more in line with Chinese tastes. I’m sure you know how successful Buick is in that country. For European brands I think they should go with something premium. Once the dealer network is established and the numbers are decent they could have introduced the large volume brands.

    Is there any news about Viaggios being exported to other parts of the world?

    • OK. Let’s give the Dart more time. However, the Dart plays as local and every American knows the brand, and even the nameplate. Besides, it makes use of a giant dealership network. The Viaggio doesn’t count on those advantages. I think the Viaggio is exported to the Philipines.

      • A very good point: in China, the weak distribution network is really Fiat’s biggest challenge, not the Viaggio.

  3. I confirm what argt21 is saying, I wouldn’t consider the Dart as a flop, it is to early to say this. I think the numbers will increase with the new engine and automatics, but for sure Fiat/Chrysler should work more on promotion for this car. In China I would say it’s the opposite…I would see more the Viaggio as a flop thean the Dart, but here too it is to early to say this…let’s wait another 6-8 months, but Fiat should work very hard to promote this car and work for the awarness of the brand in china, if not it will be very difficult sell cars with the Fiat brand there…

  4. Dart and Viaggio are flops (the major flop is Viaggio).
    But it’s strange because the car is good.
    Probably the problem is the poor marketing.

    • The other problem for Dart are the massive discounts Dodge offers on the ancient but larger Avenger.

  5. What you need is become a DODGE an international brand (again), and offer this car in asia (with China), latin america, the mid east and australia as a Dodge not FIAT. Let Fiat to focus in small cars (A-B segments) and give a Dodge a B-segment car (sedan & hatchback) for international markets.

  6. Dart sales are up – both YoY & MoM with about 7000 cars sold in US in August – just hold your horses mate, too early to call it a failure. I would say a limited success even in US, not just in China.

  7. How can I get a Viaggio front end in the US to put on my new Dart. I like the look better.

  8. chrysler was bad. then tey were bad . now they are bad. last in everything as american cars go. that is a low spot. they always made junk. since at least the 1960’s. swallowed up amc , jeep , worked with vw, renalt etc. and mercedes. still a flop in the us. oh , the trucks …well you have a choice of 3 here in the us.

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